SpaceX and SpaceIL work together for science
A SpaceX rocket launches into the night.
VIERA VOICE Courtesy of SpaceX
Ever since its inception, SpaceX has been pushing the limits to what a privately-owned company can do with space-age technology. With another launch under its belt, the future looks bright for the private sector in space.
On Feb. 21, SpaceX launched its PSN-6 satellite, along with the SpaceIL Lunar Lander from Kennedy Space Center.
The rocket had experienced two delays previously, but the final launch blasted off at exactly start-time, which was 8:45 p.m.
The mission of the rocket is twofold: one piece of the cargo, the SpaceX PSN-6, is a communications satellite set to orbit the Earth; the other is a privately-funded Israeli lunar lander, set to land on the moon two months from the Feb. 21 launch.
According to an online article by Space News, “SpaceIL originally developed the lander to compete for the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize, which offered a $20 million grand prize to the first private team to land a spacecraft on the moon, move at least 500 meters across the surface and collect images and other data.
“However, IAI, responsible for building the spacecraft, has more recently shown an interest in using that platform for future missions,” Space News writer Jeff Foust wrote.
During the mission, SpaceIL will share data collected by its lunar lander with NASA, effectively working together to promote scientific knowledge around the world.
During the launch, the surrounding areas of Cape Canaveral, and even to the beaches of Cocoa Beach were lit up by rocket’s fire, and the resounding blast of the launch could be heard (and felt) for miles away.
“It was amazing,” one local resident said. “it was one of the most memorable launches I’ve seen.”
Those that went to see the launch from the shores of the Atlantic also were treated to a bright orange moonrise, which the rocket could be seen to be jetting off to until it passed out of sight.